The art of the winter roast
by Andy Bryenton
There’s something special about a proper roast dinner when it’s cold outside. With so many flavours, from caramelised onion through to crispy crackling, a pork roast is a local classic — and it’s made even better with the addition of sides like watercress and spiced apple sauce.
There’s a lot of debate about how to create the perfect pork roast, but by following a simple recipe that’s remained unchanged (apart from the electric oven) since medieval times, even a novice can create a right royal banquet that will warm up the whole family. Not to mention providing leftovers for the next day’s lunch!
You will need — 1.35kg loin of Pork, preferably free-range — larger joints are also fine, the cooking time is adjustable as we will discuss later. Four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Coarse sea salt.
One red onion. One teaspoon of butter, chilled. A sprig of rosemary. One glass of white cooking wine. 500ml of veggie stock.
Bring the pork to room temperature, and slash the skin with a craft knife or scalpel — a very sharp blade is needed. Don’t go all the way through to the meat. Now massage in olive oil and salt. Those seeking a fiery taste could add cayenne pepper or a cajun rub at this point. Place the pork skin side up in a roasting pan on a bed of chopped onion rings and the whole sprig of rosemary. Preheat your oven to 220 degrees C. The calculation for cooking time is easy — 25 minutes plus a further 25 minutes per every 450 grams of pork. Our 1.35kg example takes one hour and 40 minutes. When it’s done — check the crackling for crispy texture — let the roast stand under foil in a warm oven before carving.
Some chefs like to ‘smash’ the crackling and add crunchy pieces to the carved meat before smothering it in onion gravy. Team up your roast with kumara, pumpkin, roasted bulbs of garlic and jacket potatoes — you can use the red onion from under the roast to make a thick, delicious gravy by adding chilled butter, a little white wine and veggie stock. Thicken with a sprinkling of flour and add zest with a tiny dash of Tabasco. Match this dish with a dark red wine, and taste the berry and chocolate tones of the wine complement the tender pork and roasted veggies. A treat for everyone, and, as noted, a great source of cold cuts for those school and work lunches the next day.